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555 Holland America Seattle Cruise Reviews

This was my first cruise. I loved it. We had a suite. The room was do much bigger than I expected. Having our own balcony was so peaceful when you wanted to get away from everyone. Our room stewards were amazing. I think they cleaned our ... Read More
This was my first cruise. I loved it. We had a suite. The room was do much bigger than I expected. Having our own balcony was so peaceful when you wanted to get away from everyone. Our room stewards were amazing. I think they cleaned our room at least three times a day. We had free daily laundry service which was amazing. The staff in the Neptune Lounge were incredible. I'm glad we splurged for the top suites that came with our own concierge. The ladies in the Neptune were so helpful. We had one and only one problem. I made my reservations straight through Holland Anerica. I told the woman I could come in on Friday but would prefer Saturday. We sailed Saturday. She said that would be no problem. She was wrong. We almost missed the ship. I was in tears by the time we got on ship. But as soon as we got in our room and the Neptune Staff took over care of us everything was wonderful. My daughter loved HAL club. She wanted to spend every minute at HAL. The staff did a lot of unique things to keep the kids entertained. Speaking of entertainment, we loved the nightly shows. I enjoyed the crew show. We both loved Recycled Percussion. The comedian was great too. The cooking classes were not as good as I hoped. I thought we would get to actually cook the dishes. I did enjoy the Majority Rules Trivia. I had a blast playing that with people I met just that night. The food was terrific. We usually did the open seating sit down dining. The service was amazing. There were a lot of fun dishes to try. Some of the guests we sat with were unfriendly though. The ports were nice. We didn't pay ahead for excursions although we went up the tram to Mt. Roberts in Juneau. We enjoyed that. My favorite stop was in Sitka. It us a beautiful town. Cruising in Glacier Bay was wonderful. I highly recommend the Pea Soup! All in all the best and most restful vacation I have ever had. We can't wait to do another cruise. Read Less
Sail Date August 2014
I took my first cruise, my wife her second on the Amsterdam. Overall, the cruise was about what we expected. The food was generally very good, occasionally stuff that should be hot was barely warm or cold. The dessert selection was ... Read More
I took my first cruise, my wife her second on the Amsterdam. Overall, the cruise was about what we expected. The food was generally very good, occasionally stuff that should be hot was barely warm or cold. The dessert selection was fantastic, it's a wonder we didn't put on any weight on the cruise. We found the bed to be rather stiff, I woke up with back aches a couple days. Our stewards kept our cabin spotless. Only have a few gripes. We reserved a large cabin but it was at smallest of the range given. We did have plenty of storage for our stuff though. Our cabin was under the Queens lounge, we could hear the music from the lounge at night. Not loud enough to be disturbing though. Our dinner at the Pinnacle Grill was ruined by a large boisterous party of 13 seated in the same room. Lastly, the gal that worked the gift shop couldn't care less about the guests. She refused a simple request to find a shirt in my size then ignored customers in the shop while a couple of the ship's officers looked around. The last gripe is the lack of trash receptacles on the ship. It wasn't uncommon to see trash left abandoned around the ship. I often carried empty paper cups all the way back to my cabin for disposal. The very good was the food in the Pinnacle Grill and the Canneletto. The staff (except for one) was very friendly. The entertainment was top notch. The gal that did a black and white photo shoot for us went above the call of duty. Read Less
Sail Date July 2014
This was our 5th cruise on HAL, and our 7th cruise overall. This was our 3rd cruise to Alaska. We are in our early 70s, active and in good health. In brief, this was our best cruise experience overall. In fact, we would like to repeat this ... Read More
This was our 5th cruise on HAL, and our 7th cruise overall. This was our 3rd cruise to Alaska. We are in our early 70s, active and in good health. In brief, this was our best cruise experience overall. In fact, we would like to repeat this cruise in 2 years or so. The Amsterdam is a first-class ship, well-maintained and well-run. We particularly liked 2 of the public areas on the ship, the Crow's Nest and the Library. During daylight hours, both were places where you could chat, read and simply observe the passing scenery and wildlife. Our cabin was clean and had more storage space than we needed. The cabin and the bathroom had excellent air circulation and A/C. The food on the cruise was quite good. We ate most evening meals in the main dining room and enjoyed both the quality of the food and the variety of offerings. We especially liked the fish and vegetarian choices. The food in the Lido, where we had most breakfasts and lunches, was very good. We ate twice in the Canaletto, and thought the food and the service were vastly improved compared with past HAL cruises. And the Pinnacle Grill is exceptional, well worth at least one dinner during a cruise. We were very impressed with cruising in the Tracey Arm and Hubbard Glacier area. Our favorite ports were Ketchikan, Kodiak and Sitka. Our best shore excursions were the Misty Fjords trip out of Ketchikan, the whale watching trip out of Juneau and the sea otters and wildlife trip out of Sitka. In addition to the shore excursions, we were able to see many whales, both humpbacks and orcas, while cruising. The room stewards and dining room personnel all provided us with excellent service. They were uniformly pleasant and attentive, and a few made it a point to learn our names during the cruise. Our only criticism was the shortage of wine stewards in the dining room. Entertainment is not high on our list of reasons for cruising. But we appreciated the addition of the 6:30 PM shows, which allowed us to go to dinner around 7:30 PM after the big dinner rush. The on-board entertainers were energetic and generally well-received. The embarkation and disembarkation procedures were somewhat improved over prior cruises. The disembarkation process was especially smooth and efficient.   Read Less
Sail Date July 2014
In 1984, my wife and I were in Anchorage. 1984 was Alaska's 25th year of Statehood and we were blessed to be there at that time. We promised we would be back but, we did not believe it would be thirty years later. We booked our first ... Read More
In 1984, my wife and I were in Anchorage. 1984 was Alaska's 25th year of Statehood and we were blessed to be there at that time. We promised we would be back but, we did not believe it would be thirty years later. We booked our first cruise through a cruise dedicated agent. We were at his mercy as far as cabin choice etc.. We were very lucky to have chosen the Holland America Westerdam. It is a wonderful ship with an excellent crew. Following is a synopsis of our wonderful voyage. We flew into Sea/Tac and took a yellow cab to Pier # 91 with a stop on the way at Fred Myers Grocery for some Diet Coke since, carrying on soda is permissable. Embarkation: We arrived around Noon. We had checked-in online which made for a very easy boarding. We headed to the Lido and had lunch. When we arrived back to our room, our luggage was already delivered. We met our cabin stewards and they emptied the mini bar fridge making room for our Diet Coke. Our cabin, 5072, was mid-ship and the cabin itself was perfect. I was apprehensive about sailing because I thought I would feel like I was in a gold fish bowl; which was an unfounded fear. I'm a wide body and there was plenty of room. The bed and pillows were very comfortable. We slept well but that may have to do with all the walking; which I will cover later in this review. In the future we will avoid Deck 5 (Verandah) mid-ship because of the life boats directly under the balcony. Our stewards' Ishlah & Agus did a commendable job. We had Captain Scott and he kept the ship on an even keel. We did not have motion sickness at any time although on the first day, only, we took Bonine prophylactically. The ship is beautiful and the decor is more traditional to cruising than some of the more "modern" cruise ships. The full promenade deck gave us the feeling of how cruising must have been many years ago. The "front desk" which is located on Deck #1 was very helpful,and courteous to these first time cruisers. We had a problem with the a/c and Ricky Mau was quick to come to our cabin and use his "thermometer" and sure enough the a/c was malfunctioning. The problem was alleviated. The front desk, because of their perception our discomfort; sent down a dish of candy. There is a Catholic Mass aboard ship. The Presider was Fr. Michael Donahue. While attending an AA meeting in the Styvuesant meeting room my wife volunteered for me to Cantor the Mass; which of course I was honored to do. Fr. Donahue graduated from Merrimack College over thirty years ago. Oh; Merrimack College is three miles "up the road" from where we live. Small world,eh? Food: The food in the MDR was very good with a very nice presentation. Service would be a B+ because at times it was extremely slow. We learned to order immediately when the waiter came back to take our drink order and that seemed to expedite the service. The servers were always polite. We did enjoy the Lido for breakfast and lunch. We were early risers considering we fell asleep much earlier than at home; due to all the walking. The Lido would start to get "busy" around 8:00 AM even on short port days. I did take a "Learning about your camera" seminar and it was informative. I missed the photo editing class. Excursions: Juneau; Mendenhall Glacier was beautiful. We took the "Glacier Express" from the pier and our driver/guide a native Indian. He never did say which tribe. He was very patient, kind and he presented a very educational ride/tour on our half hour trip to the glacier. This is where the walking starts. Once off the bus we walked approximately 1/4 mile to and, obviously, from the visitor center. We took some pictures by the wall and started our sojourn to Nugget Falls. Our bus driver had mentioned it would be about, ah; a ten minute walk. That would be for Olympic walkers. For us; a good 25 minutes over a well groomed trail with lots of ups and downs. Remember, this is a round trip "stroll". Walking back, though painful, seemed faster. Please let me explain; we are active seniors with bad knees. We were able to make the 5:30 bus which was SRO. One passenger, Robert from Vancouver was seated and watched as people approached the bus. He noticed my wife hobbling behind and gave up his seat so she could sit down. Nice guy; eh! Robert was not the exception to the rule. We met so many, kind, considerate and just great people on this cruise; making the voyage that more delightful. Glacier Bay: Not a shore excursion but should be mentioned as a "Port Of Call". Beautiful Margerie Glacier. Captain Scott made sure everyone had an excellent view by rotating the ship 360 degrees. We did witness some small calfing. Expected; the weather was cold and drizzling. We enjoyed Glacier Bay but next cruise north will include Hubbard Glacier. We also saw Lamplugh Glacier along the way. Sitka; We did a wildlife tour with two other couples aboard a 27' Hewes Craft. I believe I am not allowed to mention the company. The captain is 37 years old, did wildlife research, and has the same name as the singer of the 1977 hit song; "I Go Crazy". I did post a review of this amazing whale watching/wilderness tour on a popular trip advising web site under the psuedonym; "Singer". We saw, and my wife was sprayed by a Humpback Whale while it's left eye stared at her. She was about 10 feet away. Yooowwwza!! We also were fortunate to see Grey Whales, Harbor Seals, Bald Eagles,Sea Lions, Sea Otters, and observe a Coastal Brown Bear foraging on the shoreline from approximately 20 yards out. While in Sitka we stopped at Ludwig's Chowder. Not to be confused with Ludwig's Bistro. Ludwig's Chowder is open for lunch and has the best Chowdahhhh! Ketchikan: We "set sail" on the Ketchikan Duck Tours. Very informative and Alessha, our guide, was terrific. We toured the "First City In Alaska" which is an island. We then "plunged" into the sea and "sailed" Ketchikan Harbor. Interestingly, it is cheaper to rent a slip and live on a boat than it is to rent an apartment. Ketchikan has a warmer climate and less snow than New England although wind gusts in wintery Ketchikan can reach 90knts. Now that's some serious wind chill factor. We visited a couple of places in the city which, usually, meant climbing very steep hills. Did I mention walking before??? Butchart Gardens. Stunning!! Every flower imaginable which will grow in Saanich, B.C. was on display. Our tour guide was Bryce with CVS tours. We had him to and from. Nice guy with a wealth of knowledge about Victoria,B.C.. Spent about two hours at Butchart and, yup you guessed it; lots and lots of walking although, the gardens were very "mobility impaired" friendly. We had a special treat while walking around; Colin James Band was performing and was a perfect backdrop.Do not forget your Ibuprofen!! If you do, it is for sale at the Information Center. Entertainment aboard ship: Too much "Dancing With The Stars" and not enough focus on production numbers. 'nuff said ! We had a marvelous, memorable, meandering and yes, mobility testing cruise but it was more than well worth it and do the exact same things again, except Burchart Gardens. We are not complaining about the walking but want people to know what to expect. We hope to make another Alaska cruise, hopefully aboard a Holland America ship. Safe sailing folks!   Read Less
Sail Date July 2014
We arrived at pier 91 in Seattle at Noon and were immediately met by a porter who promptly took our luggage. Despite the loading of a Princess ship at the same pier, the porters were clearly identifiable. The boarding process was very ... Read More
We arrived at pier 91 in Seattle at Noon and were immediately met by a porter who promptly took our luggage. Despite the loading of a Princess ship at the same pier, the porters were clearly identifiable. The boarding process was very quick and we were in our rooms within a half hour of arrival at the dock. We were in Neptune Suite 7052 where a bottle of sparking wine awaited us. We went to the MDR for the Mariner lunch, where our waiter was also our regular waiter for our dining room seating. When we returned to our state room, all of our luggage arrived before 2pm. After unpacking, we paid a visit to the Neptune lounge to meet our very pleasant concierge. Prior to the sail away, there was a safety drill on deck three after which we explored the ship. Amsterdam is a mid-sized ship with very nice public areas that never seemed crowded. I was apprehensive about the small size at first, but it was more than adequate. I was very pleased at the size of the stateroom. My main negative would be regarding the noise from the deck above. The dragging of deck furniture was very much evident throughout the day.and early evening. I have a feeling that if the weather was rainy most of the time, it would have made matters even more difficult. It would have made enjoying the spacious balcony not too relaxing. We chose second seating for dining and were not disappointed. Our two waiters did everything they could to make our dining experience exceptional. Once they knew our likes, special items were always ready for us when we arrived. We sat with friends at a table for 4. Extras were always provided when requested. For breakfast and lunch, we generally ate in the lido. We found the staff to be generally very helpful. A couple of times we tried the Dive In at poolside and were disappointed that the burgers and hot dogs came out cold. We had an exceptional meal in the Pinnacle Grill on the last evening. It was well worth the surcharge. I found the entertainment in the Queen's Room to be mediocre at best. I thought the singers and dancers to be on the same level as many high school productions that I have witnessed. The entertainment in the ships lounges was of good quality. By the way, do you really need the shopping advisers? This was my third Alaskan cruise, so I had been to all of the ports visited. I still found them fun and exciting. The trip through Tracey Arm was very beautiful. Disembarkation was the smoothest we have ever experienced. We walked off the ship at 8am and were through immigration and in a taxi within 15 minutes despite the fact that there was another ship unloading at the same time. This was my fourth HAL sailing and I will certainly be sailing on Amsterdam again. Read Less
Sail Date June 2014
Our family (14 of us) just returned from a cruise on the MS Amsterdam to Alaska's Inside Passage. We had such a wonderful trip! The ship was beautiful and clean. We had great service throughout the ship. All of the crew were friendly ... Read More
Our family (14 of us) just returned from a cruise on the MS Amsterdam to Alaska's Inside Passage. We had such a wonderful trip! The ship was beautiful and clean. We had great service throughout the ship. All of the crew were friendly and welcoming. The food on board was plentiful and delicious. The La Fontaine restaurant was beautiful and elegant. The staff there were wonderful! The Pinncale Grill was absolutely a treat! We ate there the first night on the ship and it was a perfect way to start our cruise! We had balcony rooms that were spacious and clean. Our rooms also were spacious and clean and provided plenty of privacy. We enjoyed being able to use the Neptune Lounge and the young lady there at the desk was so helpful to us the entire time on board. Our kids liked going to Club Hal to get away from us at times and they also enjoyed the swimming pool on deck. The food at poolside was delicious! Burgers and Taco salads were enjoyed by many of us. Holland America was a wonderful choice for a trip to the Inside Passage of Alaska. The photo lab was a great way to capture family photos! I was taking plenty of pictures myself, but with the on-board photographers we were able to have family photos (including me)! The embarkation and disembarkation ran smoothly and was hassle-free. The crew on this ship was fantastic! We really felt like we were on vacation on this ship! I would definitely sail with Holland America again! Read Less
Sail Date June 2014
We were on the Amsterdam for the 14-day trip June 22 - July 6th. We had a great time! Cabin: 3431. This is a handicapped accessible cabin on the stern of the ship - lower promenade. The shower was wonderful and the room was very spacious. ... Read More
We were on the Amsterdam for the 14-day trip June 22 - July 6th. We had a great time! Cabin: 3431. This is a handicapped accessible cabin on the stern of the ship - lower promenade. The shower was wonderful and the room was very spacious. The door was wide enough for the scooter to enter and exit easily. There was a closet with shelves as soon as you came in the door. Directly opposite the door was another closet with a shelf and hanging room. Next to the door area was another double closet - one for hanging clothes and the other had the safe and shelves. There were 3 large drawers in the desk area. We left the beds as twins and had a large empty space between the beds. The nightstands were in front of the window which meant we could stand there and look out. The views off the stern of the ship were breathtaking at times and it was nice to see where we'd been! We'd book this cabin again in a heartbeat. Ship: The ship was in great shape. She is our favorite and we enjoyed her yet again. The ship is easy to get around and there are many places to get away. Staff: Everyone was super nice and so accomodating. I did the Meet and Greet and several officers attended. The CD was Michael Harvey and he was very good. He did a nice presentation for Canada Day. As a Canadian who has lived in the US for 35+ years I learned a few things from him. Lisa, the Beverage Manager, was so easy to work with and so personable. Our room stewards were great! Food: I'm definitely not a "foodie" and I can say that we never went hungry or wanting for food. We tried the Dive-In a few times. My hubby loved the fries but found the burgers to big and messy for his liking. He found he preferred the hot dogs. The Lido was always well-appointed. We ate all but 2 evenings in the dining room. We had As You Wish Dining, a reservation for 5:15 and, after day 4, sat at the same table, with the same tablemates for the rest of the cruise. Some have said the portions seem smaller and I can see that but I look at that as a positive. I can have all the courses and not come away stuffed. Both Canada Day and Independence Day were formal nights and the dining room was well-appointed for both holidays. On Canada Day there were a few dishes with a Canadian theme and we all agreed that the French Canadian Tartiere was to die for! We all wanted it as a main dish and not as an appetizer. Some people I knew even ordered it again for dessert! Itinerary: All the ports were wonderful. We had rain in Juneau and Ketchikan but it was spotty and didn't hamper us from getting off and exploring. My hubby uses a scooter for mobility and the crew was great at helping us on and off the ship. We tend to do things on our own which makes for a more interesting time to us! In Icy Strait and Sitka the crew toted the scooter down the stairs to the tender - we contributed to their crew fund as a "thank you". All the ports were fun to walk around in and we'd love to go back to them (even if this was our 3rd time on this itinerary). Excursions: We did two through HAL - The Rain Forest Tram in Icy Strait and, in Anchorage, the Aviation Museum. Both were very nice and we enjoyed them a lot. The museum in Anchorage is small but the people in charge are very friendly and worked hard to be sure we had a good experience. They even had a couple of the men who had helped with the plane restoration come in to give us guided tours. Every other port we got off on our own and walked everywhere we could! Entertainment: We only had 2 shows, plus the first night overview, from the singers and dancers and many people commented that they wished we had seen them more. There were a number of special acts including Chad Chessmark (comedian and magician - ok), Jeff Burkhart (comedian - ok), Paul Pappas (pianist - excellent); The Unexpected Boys (quartet - excellent); Lee Bayless (comedian - excellent) and Barnaby (comedian and juggler - ok). Meet and Greet: We had 92 on our roll call and about 1/2 came to the Meet and Greet. Lisa, the beverage manager, did an awesome job of setting everything up for us. I had asked for a ship's photographer to attend and Vladimir came. It took some doing but he got a very nice picture of all of us. We had several officers there including Lisa, Michael (CD), Clinton (Events Manager) and a few others. The captain did not attend because it was an extremely foggy day and our event was punctuated with the fog horn going off. We were very glad he was on the bridge taking care of business! Again?: We would do this itinerary again in a heartbeat. We love the ship and 2 weeks is a great time frame. We love the ports and had a great time getting off and walking. My pedometer, by the last night of the cruise, had logged over 550,000 steps and over 130 miles. We had on our walking shoes!   Read Less
Sail Date June 2014
All in all this cruise was fantastic! This was a 20 anniversary trip with our son and we had been planning for about six months prior. We stayed at the beautiful Fairmont Olympic for two nights prior to our cruise and loved it. Even ... Read More
All in all this cruise was fantastic! This was a 20 anniversary trip with our son and we had been planning for about six months prior. We stayed at the beautiful Fairmont Olympic for two nights prior to our cruise and loved it. Even better is that we were able to get onto the Holland America bus right from the hotel and didn't have to worry about transportation. The hotel is beautiful and our son loved the indoor pool. The staff was fantastic! We would definitely stay there again. Embarkation was a breeze. We were at the pier and on the ship within 30 minutes, I would say. Stateroom was ready so we dropped our things off and went to explore and eat. ;) I thought the ship was beautiful and has been well tended. I didn't see anything other than what I would consider normal wear and tear from thousands of people on a weekly basis. The walls of our cabin were a little marked up and there were two strange stains on the walls but that didn't detract from our overall happiness with the cabin. We were in 6060 and had plenty of space for two adults and one 8 year old. We purchased our two excursions from HAL and couldn't be more pleased. We did the Best of Juneau (whale/wildlife watching, salmon bake and Mendenhall Glacier) and loved the glacier and whale watching. We were lucky enough to see whales bubble net feeding and were within feet our our boat. We could have taken or left the salmon bake at Orca Point Lodge. The lodge and it's location were beautiful but the food was just ok and we felt rushed. We also did the Bering Sea Crab Fisherman's Tour on the Aleutian Ballad. I'm a fan of Deadliest Catch so that was a treat for me. It's really a show on board the Aleutian Ballad and all the players do a great job. An unexpected treat was traveling to a spot where about 20-30 bald eagles are nesting and getting some amazing pictures while the guys on the boat fed them fish. That was worth the price of the excursion alone. Dining on board was just ok for me. I was not particularly impressed with any of the food but it was certainly edible and fairly plentiful. The Lido did run out of several things at lunch most days most notably fruit and ice cream. As part of our Explore4 promo, we received a free Pinnacle Grill dinner. Unfortunately, they first scheduled us for our day in Juneau when we wouldn't be back until late. Rescheduling was a bit of a pain. I first rescheduled for the night after but that was a special wine maker's dinner and they rescheduled us again for a time when Club HAL wasn't open. So we tried to reschedule again only to be told there were no other times available. Eventually, we were able to get a reservation for Le Cirque and only paid the difference between a Pinnacle night and the Le Cirque night which was $20 per person. Thankfully, that was all it was because had I paid the full price I would have been even more disappointed. Le Cirque was not good and I will never do it again. The amuse bouche was bad and it didn't get much better than that. Even our server stated that at the server tasting prior to opening the amuse bouche (foie gras on top of a weird chutney) was not liked by most of the staff. It was gross! The highlight of the meal was the butternut squash soup with toasted pumpkin seeds and truffle oil. Awesome! Other than that my chateaubriand and my husband's cod were nothing to write home about. I hate to say it but most of the other diners were ship staff and very few cruisers. Now I know why. :) Breakfast in the main dining room is a must however. Everything we had was great and it was usually never crowded. My son loved Club HAL and towards the last few days actually requested to go which is unusual for him. So I would say that was a win for him. We didn't attend any shows but heard they were pretty good. I did enjoy the guitarist in the Crow's Nest. Overall we had a great time and very, very few complaints. But we are pretty laid back people and don't demand much. We hadn't been on a cruise in 10 years prior to this (and never one with a child) and had never sailed on Holland America before so we didn't know exactly what to expect and tried to go on board with an open mind and flexibility. I think we would definitely sail HAL again and Alaska is a bucket list destination for sure! Read Less
Sail Date June 2014
Embarkation was very smooth and took 45 minutes upon arriving at 11:30. Had plenty of time to enjoy the Mariners lunch. All bags were delivered by the time we reached our room at 1:30. Our room stewards - Izy and Ritzey were fantastic. ... Read More
Embarkation was very smooth and took 45 minutes upon arriving at 11:30. Had plenty of time to enjoy the Mariners lunch. All bags were delivered by the time we reached our room at 1:30. Our room stewards - Izy and Ritzey were fantastic. Never needed to request additional ice or beverages in the mini bar. As usual with HAL and truly Appreciated our room was put in order "magically" whenever we departed for breakfast and before returning from late dining. As many have probably heard ms Westerdam became abit upset 45 minutes out of Seattle and had a fire in the boiler room. It was put under control but "flared - up" again causing the ship to head back to Seattle. During this 15-20 minute event the Captain kept all informed of the developments. This was appreciated. Once back in Seattle the USCG inspected the ship and re-cleared our journey for another departure to Alaska. Unfortunately this was not to occur until the following morning with the port of Sitka cut out of the cruise. This revised agenda was reported to the ship by the CEO of HAL along with an on-board credit and future cruise discount. A nice gesture indeed but believe most were thankful that no serious injuries to anyone and that this event occurred so close to Seattle so that proper fixes could be completed. Overall Ms Westerdam is still a very stately and fine ship. The crew was energetic and pleasant. I'm sure the revolving 7 day cruise schedule is a grind for them but I never noticed a disgruntled crew member. This is another reason we choose to cruise with HAL. The cruise ports and overall weather were fantastic. Loved Glacier Bay. Weather was sunny and 56f with slight wind. Perfect conditions for viewing the glaciers from our balcony. Very happy that we went to Buchart Gardens in Victoria. Even though this excursion was titled " An Evening in Buchart Gardens" we were able to enjoy 1.5 hours of viewing before dusk set upon us. The gardens were just as amazing with the lighting that tastefully installed for evening viewing. The dining at both the Pinnacle and Caneletto was very good. I had read / heard mixed reviews on both but we were very pleased with the food quality and superb service. We also did Le Cirque again and although we believe it is a tad over priced the quality / service was very good as well. This was our first Alaska cruise and are looking forward to venturing further north on our next Alaska cruise.   Read Less
Sail Date June 2014
Wife and I are in our 70s but still pretty active working part-time. Arrived at Sea-Tac on 6/19(for the 6/20 departure) and shuttled to a Hampton Inn nearby. Had a town-car limo service pick us up at noon and what was normally a 30 minute ... Read More
Wife and I are in our 70s but still pretty active working part-time. Arrived at Sea-Tac on 6/19(for the 6/20 departure) and shuttled to a Hampton Inn nearby. Had a town-car limo service pick us up at noon and what was normally a 30 minute trip to Terminal 91 took 70 minutes because of road blockages during a marathon race in downtown Seattle. Needless to say, we made it and check-in went pretty quickly. Our cabin was ready. Plenty of storage space but the overall condition of the room was disappointing. Sofa was worn and faded , as was the carpet. Good location, pretty much mid-ship. Veranda furniture in terrible shape. Large chair cushions worn and soiled. Rattan table legs unraveling. Had to bug the steward to bring in an arm chair so wife was comfortable putting on make-up at the desk. The hassock provided just doesn't do it! We have certainly been in larger veranda staterooms but we managed to store everything with suitcases under the bed. HAL should really refurbish the cabins ASAP! The public areas since the recent dry-dock are beautiful. Service overall excellent, both cabin steward and MDR waiters, and found no reason to do the Pinnacle Grill as the quality of the dinners was outstanding in the Dining Room. Booked the Best of Juneau tour in Juneau, 6hours plus, and a wonderful experience. Did the Bears, Birds, and Barnacles tour in Sitka and also found it enjoyable. The stop in Ketchikan was too short so we just shopped along side the port. Arrived in Victoria after 6pm, weather was cool and overcast. We did not get off and enjoyed a quiet dinner in the MDR which was mostly empty. The production shows were good, not great. However, the singers and dancers are extremely talented. Comedian one night was excellent. Recycled Percussion group reminded us of the show: Stomp. Good, but noisy. Earplugs handed out as we entered the theater. Debark on 6/28 very smooth. Off the ship at 9:15am and taxied to a downtown hotel, arriving around 10. Stayed two days in Seattle prior to our flight home and LOVED it. Read Less
Sail Date June 2014
Since I live in the San Francisco Bay Area and had recently cruised Princess to Hawaii, I was looking for a last minute deal out of San Francisco because there would be no airfare involved. After looking and evaluating that it was a 11 day ... Read More
Since I live in the San Francisco Bay Area and had recently cruised Princess to Hawaii, I was looking for a last minute deal out of San Francisco because there would be no airfare involved. After looking and evaluating that it was a 11 day cruise with only four port stops and one day in glacier bay, I decided that was too many sea days after doing the 15 day R/T to Hawaii recently. I started looking at the Holland America Oeosterdamn from Vancouver to Seward and the return from Seward to Vancouver. The Airfare was expensive so that didn't work. I then noticed that the 14 day R/T sailing on the Amsterdam had gone down in price to where this might be doable if airfare was decent. Found a great deal on Alaska Air going into Seattle and was able to get a good fare coming home from Seattle. Found a great basic hotel called the sleep inn with great reviews. I went to cruise critic to see if anyone had stayed there and got great remarks back. This is where I found out about the Seattle Express, a shuttle Service that serves some hotels in the Seatac Area. The shuttle will pick you up at the hotel and take you to the pier and pick you up at the pier and either take you to the airport or back to the hotel after your cruise for $12.00 each way. A reservation is required but you don't pay til you actually use the service. Sleep Inn is very basic. Our room had two beds and included a microwave. There is an IHOP on the property. I would definately stay there again. The morning of our cruise, Seattle Express came to pick us up. We got to the cruise terminal and got checked in pretty fast and than got on our ship to find our Stateroom. The luggage arrived about 30 minutes after we did. We went to the Lido to have lunch and came back to unpack. We had an HH obstructed view cabin on the Lower Promenade deck. Allot of storage. Our cabin Stewarts pretty much kept the place up. Place was always clean. This ship did not seem to be full. We had anytime dinning and we never once got a pager the whole trip. Service was slow in the dinning Room. We would go at 6:30 and would get out til 9:00. The food was good to very good. Remember food is very subjective. We would eat either breakfast or lunch in the Lido. The food in the Lido was good. We were always able to find a place to sit. The crew was constantly working on the ship to keep it in shape. This is a very hard working and most professional crew of all the HAL ships I have been on. In Ketchikan it rained in the morning and this was the only rain we had during the trip. Since I had sprained my leg three weeks before, I was just getting around to sorta normal so we walked through town up to creek street, went to a museum to get out of the rain and back to the ship. Tracy Arm glacier Sun was shinning and we had a great day of glacier and waterfall viewing. In Juneau the morning was overcast and I did a whale watching tour. The water was very calm and we saw lots of whales and sea lions. By afternoon the sun was shinning so we took the tram up to Mt Roberts. Awesome view. I have been to Juneau once before where it was cloudy and rainy and would not be able to see anything if I went up Mt Roberts. Icy Strait Point we have been here before so We stayed on the ship. I took advantage of doing laundry. The laundry was$2.00 to wash and dry each load. Anchorage - we took a ships tour to Portage Glacier and the wild life refuge park where we saw bear, caribou, mouse etc. followed by the glacier tour. Homer - Took the ships tour Homer highlights - We went to the Pratt museaum, an art gallery that is located on the artist's property. Some really fantastic art work of Alaska landscape. We also went to the Ocean Center and than finally the spit. I was so glad did this tour because I saw so much more than taking the ships shuttle buses to the spit. We were there memorial weekend and saw lots of people camping on the beach. We were greeted in Homer by hundreds of seagulls. Kodiak - Neither one Of us felt good so we did not get off the ship. Sitka I found a sort of hop on hop off bus at the pier at he information center by tribal tours. The shuttle took you around to several places in Sitka for $10.00. I went to the raptor center and to totem pole forest. Still recovering from the sprained leg so could not do allot of hiking. I walked a little in the downtown area. Victoria - I have never been to Buchart Gardens I booked a tour with the ship. I was very careful because my elderly father was with me so I made sure this was a one man walking tour. I had booked this before I sprained my leg online at home. There were many slopes in the gardens and my father could not walk some of them. When we got back to the bus we found there were allot of the older folks that were having a hard time with it too. Disembarkation went like clockwork, we did the walk off met the seattle express and were at the airport by 8:30 and ended to wait an hour before we could check our luggage for our 1:25 flight. This trip was blessed with real great weather. I have been to Alaska before when it rained the whole time and it it's still fun. It sure is allot more fun with some sun and no rain. The evening shows were hit and miss. Although I will say that the dancers and singers were better than I have heard before. I did miss " Love in any language song"'they sing at the end do the cruise.   Read Less
Sail Date May 2014
Our third cruise to Alaska, second time on the Amsterdam. Embarkation in Seattle was a breeze, and luggage was in our cabin in less than 2 hours. Room steward was solicitous & hard working, as was all of the Amsterdam crew. Never saw a ... Read More
Our third cruise to Alaska, second time on the Amsterdam. Embarkation in Seattle was a breeze, and luggage was in our cabin in less than 2 hours. Room steward was solicitous & hard working, as was all of the Amsterdam crew. Never saw a frowny face, or encountered anything but a pleasant, helpful attitude. Waiters in the Lido were top notch and hard working. The ship is kept spotless, and there seems to be almost always somebody cleaning, varnishing, polishing. Only 2 complaints about Amsterdam: they took the laundry room off the main deck, (even though it still shows on the deck plan they handed out) and only have 2 now, one on the 3rd & the 6th decks. The cooked food in the Lido is almost always luke-warm to cold. I've complained about this to HAL numerous times. Cooked food needs to be kept hot. Dining room food is beautifully presented, but only tastes so-so. We only booked 2 shore excursions with HAL, Icy Strait tram and Anchorage city highlights & aviation museum. The others we bought in port. Most of the ports were enjoyable except for Anchorage. It's just another big city, and we were there Sunday of Memorial Day weekend.........boring!! The Aviation Museum was mildly interesting, but it's just an airplane hangar, unheated, and we were there way too long - they allowed us 2 hours & you can see everything in 20 minutes. We went looking for our driver after about 45 minutes. He made up the allotted time by driving us to the outskirts of the city. In Sitka loved the parks & quaint downtown shops; in Juneau we spent most of the day at Mendenhall Glacier & hiked to the waterfall; loved Homer's rocky beaches; at Icy Strait Point we took the tram through the rainforest to the beach. Tracy Arm and Hubbard were breathtaking. Hubbard Glacier calved several times while we were there. Except for a little rain the morning we were in Ketchikan weather was perfect and the seas always calm. The Indonesian Crew Show was enjoyable; and Cruise Director Gene and Show Host Jazzy made our sea days fun. Love the Amsterdam & will probably do this itinerary next year, but they really do need to do something about their food - quality is starting to slip. Read Less
Sail Date May 2014
I'm an old Navy salt. My wonderful wife of 30 years finally talked me into a cruise after MANY years of telling me we would have fun. I finally relented and we booked a 7 day Alaska cruise on Holland America. i ABSOLUTELY LOVED IT! ... Read More
I'm an old Navy salt. My wonderful wife of 30 years finally talked me into a cruise after MANY years of telling me we would have fun. I finally relented and we booked a 7 day Alaska cruise on Holland America. i ABSOLUTELY LOVED IT! Embarkation lines in Seattle were long but fast and efficient. We upgraded to a Signature Suite from a regular verandah suite for $100 more each. It was definitely worth the extra money. Plenty of space and the two sinks and showers were very convenient although the bathtub did drain a little slowly, We will not settle for less from now on. Cabin stewards were perfect, learning our names and preferences almost immediately. The towel animals were a real hoot and we anxiously waited every night to see what was next. Jason out cruise director was really good and quite the comedian. The classical piano/violin duo we listened to at night before dinner was wonderful as was the piano bar entertainer-he really got people to sing along instead of just putting on his own show like some do. I did the beer tasting event one day and really enjoyed it. It was alot of fun and I actually learned some things! The food in the MDR was always good. Plenty of choices, great dessert and coffee but plan on about a two hour experience, although it never seemed to be that long it always was. The staff knew we were celebrating our anniversary and several times brought us a little special cake to celebrate, it was always nice and a good conversation piece with our dining mates. Getting a seat at the 8 o’clock show can be a challenge if you get seated in the MDR after six. We usually just planned on attending the 10 o‘clock show, seats were always available. Cruising up into Tracy Arm was a magnificent experience. I can't commend the Captain more for the expert job he did in that narrow gorge. Awesome! The gym was top notch and I always went to "morning stretch" although one time I think the instructor was getting bored because he turned it into "morning calisthenics"! I felt like I was back in boot camp, but I kept up! The crew on this ship is so nice, cheerful and pleasant that we ended up giving several people personal tips at the end of the week in addition to the daily "service charge" that is tacked on to the bill already. Disembarkation back in Seattle was a breeze. I love cruising, I love Holland America and we are already planning our next one. Carry on.   Read Less
Sail Date May 2014
My wife and I enjoyed seeing Alaska again and experiencing the Holland America approach, the first 2 visits were on Celebrity. Overall the ship is easy to get around on and quite pretty in a simple but elegant style. The food was very ... Read More
My wife and I enjoyed seeing Alaska again and experiencing the Holland America approach, the first 2 visits were on Celebrity. Overall the ship is easy to get around on and quite pretty in a simple but elegant style. The food was very good, even at the buffet, which was a pleasant surprise. Lately cruise food seems to have declined in general...but Westerdam excelled in the dining room pretty much every night. Room service was hit or miss and somewhat disappointing, but still edible. The bars served up good drinks and at fair prices. Nice ! I must commend all the staff that we met, they were very polite, professional and really tried to assist in the best way that they could. An example was how they handled our stateroom problem. We booked cabin #4179, a balcony on the back of the ship overlooking the wake. It is larger than normal and has a large, but open roofed balcony....not good if it rains. Our problem, and we were not alone, was a lack of hot water. Several days went by with luke warm water at best. Many other rooms also had the same issue. The ship's staff genuinely tried to fix it and showed true concern for our discomfort. When it was fixed, day 5, they still called to check on us daily. Nice to know we were not ignored. The shows onboard were some of the best we have seen...great vocalists, band, and WOW were the sets amazing. So glad we went. In summary, Alaska is a grand destination and Westerdam is a good way to go. Read Less
Sail Date May 2014
Recently returned from our Alaska vacation on the Westerdam. I didn't really know what to expect having never been on a cruise before. The service was excellent. Everyone was so friendly. Saying hello, good morning. That was really a ... Read More
Recently returned from our Alaska vacation on the Westerdam. I didn't really know what to expect having never been on a cruise before. The service was excellent. Everyone was so friendly. Saying hello, good morning. That was really a nice touch. I was kind of afraid I might get sea sick. All I needed was some sea bands on my wrists. Never had to break out any of the meds. The ship really was pretty stable. The ship is in pretty good shape for 10 years old. Things are a little worn but not much. Our favorite thing to do on ship was to go up to te observation (explorer's lounge) after dinner and get a coffee and sit in those supper comfortable chairs and look out over the bow. Great view from there. Nice music in the background and the decor of an upscale library. Very relaxing. Another fun thing to do is grab a chair by the pool and enjoy a drink while all the folks spash around in the pool and play ping pong. That's always enteraining. Meal time was a treat. Service was great. We bought wine with dinner and what we didn't finish the first night they held over for us the next night. $32 a bottle wasn't bad. I liked everything I tried on the menu. Presentation of the meal was top notch. The only thing that I could think to compain about might be the long line to register but with so many people getting on board I don't know how they would do it any differently. We done Holland! Read Less
Sail Date May 2014
THE GOOD. We chose to use HAL's Flightease and will use it again. Flightease books your flight(s), transfers, and hotel stays. There are HAL personnel at every turn to make sure you are taken good care of. I highly recommend ... Read More
THE GOOD. We chose to use HAL's Flightease and will use it again. Flightease books your flight(s), transfers, and hotel stays. There are HAL personnel at every turn to make sure you are taken good care of. I highly recommend Flightease. As we made our way from South Texas towards Seattle, our connection at DFW made us check our carry-ons right at the gate. No time to pull jewelry, cameras, shaving kits, cosmetic bags or anything else. "You can pick them up at baggage claim in Seattle." RIGHT! You guessed it. Our luggage made it fine but no carry-ons. The HAL folks on station in SEA-TAC went right to work to get Alaska Airlines and American Airlines busy finding our bags. The HAL folks at our hotel keep up the pressure and the concierge in the Neptune Lounge on board the Westerdam picked up the baton and continued to work for us - and 30 minutes before the ship sailed, our carry-ons arrived. Yes, I will continue to use Flightease! THE GOOD. Embarkation went really fast because we booked a Neptune Suite #7085 and a perk is that we were put in a line to check in that was empty while the standard line was quite long. It moved quickly however. As we boarded the ship, we were taken to our already prepared room on a service elevator thereby missing the lines waiting for the regular elevators. This is the first time we have ever had a suite and immensely enjoyed the perks! Particularly the Neptune Lounge and the breakfast in the Pinnacle Grill [reserved for suite guest only]. No brag, just fact. THE GOOD. The ship had just come from a refit a month before. It was clean and sharp. She looked good. Yes, you can tell that she isn't a new ship, but she is in fine shape. I have nothing negative to say about the Westerdam. All the crew smiled, were friendly, and as helpful as they could be considering that many of them had just started after the refit. The passengers that were on board were mostly older and a mix of nationalities. There were some children but not many and the ones I did notice were well behaved. THE GOOD AND THE BAD. The food was a mix. Almost everything I ordered came well prepared and tasty, but I'm easy to please. Room service came when we asked for it to be delivered such as when we had an early excursion. Lido was always crowded and we only found someone serving ice cream one time. For a buffet, the Lido is good, but finding a place to sit was a challenge. The MDR was above par. We like "anytime dinning" and especially like to share a table and meet new people. Not every dish was great, not every menu had lots of items I was interest in, but on the whole - very satisfactory. HOWEVER, the Pinnacle Grill at one breakfast didn't bring my DW her meal until the rest of our party had nearly finished our plates! Totally unacceptable. I get better service than that at Dairy Queen. We also chose to dine at "An Evening at Le Cirque" [booked before we sailed]. The meal was quite good until the Chateaubriand, which was overdone. It was still good but the meal wasn't worth the extra fare. The steak in the MDR was ever bit as tasty. As a side note, on the Zuiderdam we went to Le Cirque and had probably the finest meal I have ever had at sea!!! THE BLAND. There were several evenings where the HAL's entertainers put on a show. They worked hard and showed lots of talent, but the performance wasn't finely tuned. However, give them kudos for on the night with the storm and the bow bouncing in the seas, they trooped on. May have been their best performance. There was a percussion group called Recycled Percussion that played one night. They worked hard but didn't wow me. THE UGLY. The weather on the way from Ketchikan to Victoria had apparent winds of 75 knots. Now HAL can't control the weather, but the upside was that the ship handled it very well. CONCLUSION. I do wish that we had more time in each port, but we didn't go to Alaska to visit ports. We went for the scenery which was terrific. GOOD. Disembarkation seemed to me to be a bit disorganized, but that was my fault. It did start a few minutes late, but when it started - it went really well. Again, Flightease was on the job! There is a program on HAL ships at Seattle where for a minimum fee they take your bags from your room, check them all the way to you destination for you, and even check you in with your airline thereby providing you a boarding pass before you even leave the ship. One nice thing is that you don't have to worry about a bag being overweight. No extra charge for an overweight bag! One of our bags weighed 71 lbs. and we were not charged an overage fee. Do not disembark without taking advantage of this program. I hope your next voyage on Holland America Lines is as wonderful as the ones we have had.   Read Less
Sail Date May 2014
When starting to research cruiselines for my 55th birthday trip to Alaska, I went first to a trusted friend and travel agent for advice. She told me "Holland America does Alaska well....try them." I had been on Azamara, Princess ... Read More
When starting to research cruiselines for my 55th birthday trip to Alaska, I went first to a trusted friend and travel agent for advice. She told me "Holland America does Alaska well....try them." I had been on Azamara, Princess and RC previously, but never HAL. So, I turned here to CC to research them. To be honest, some of the reviews on the Westerdam sort of concerned me, but in the end, I booked with them on the Westerdam, and I am happy to say that I was glad I did. My 30-something daughter accompanied me on my birthday trip, and we both really enjoyed the ship and the ports. We laughed because she was probably only of about 10% of the ship in her age group, but she likes the pace we "older" crowd enjoy.....in bed early, up early, etc. etc., so it was never a problem for her. That being said, if you want a cruise with a lot of "action", this one is probably not your first choice. Clearly 2/3 of the ship was my age or older, but that was what I was looking for. We started by flying to Seattle, staying at the Hampton near Sea-tac, and it was perfect. They even arranged a shuttle for us to the ship the next day for a really reasonable price...around 15.00 each. That worked out great...we were picked up on time and dropped right at the cruise port pronto. We embarked, and the process was not too bad. About 45 minutes total. When we got to our room, our luggage was already there, so we unpacked and then went to the pool deck to enjoy a scrumptious burger at the grill and the drink of the day. That burger ended up being one of the best I have ever had, and the best for a casual quick lunch. We got upgraded to a verandah room two weeks before the cruise for a nominal fee, which I was good with, and although many people suggested we wouldn't use our balcony much for an Alaskan cruise, we actually did...a lot. I was really happy that we did, especially the day we were in Glaciar Bay, when we could sit out on our private balcony, talk, drink wine, and enjoy the beautiful view without trying to elbow our way through the crowds for pictures. Many people who reviewed the ship before we went, spoke about how worn it was, needed upgrading, etc. But, I have to say, I didn't see that at all. It was clean, beautifully decorated, and our room was always taken care of. I guess, to each his own, but I am pretty persnickety about cleanliness...and I just didn't ever see a problem there. The meals in the main dining room were always exceptional. No disappointments there. The food on the Lido was basically cafeteria food. We only ate up there a few times, and it really was only to fill the belly quickly. I wouldn't eat there more than a few times when there was much better food to be had. We had breakfast delivered to our room every morning, and it was always on time, hot and very good. We loved eating in the privacy of our cabin in our pajamas. Quite a luxury for both of us. Our room stewards kept us in ice and fresh fruit every day too.....very well taken care of! We also ate in the Italian style restaurant one night for an extra 10.00 each...and it was really good, and a nice departure from the dining room. My birthday dinner in the Pinnacle Grill was the highlight of the week though. Beautifully grilled steaks, impeccable service, and they even brought me a delicious chocolate mousse cake for my birthday dessert. Delightful! Get your reservations in ahead of your cruise on the cruise line website...I heard people griping that it was difficult to get a reservation once on board. It was a memorable meal. We loved the shows every night. Thought they were all very professionally done, and wonderful singers and dancers. The shows were mostly about an hour, with 3 times each evening. I liked that. We were able to have dinner and catch a show, then off to our room to drift off to sleep while reading in bed. Another luxury in our busy lives. The ports were great. We did whale watching in Juneau and Sitka (booked both off of Trip Advisor....never through HAL). Saw humpbacks, a few Orcas off the ship, a grey whale, puffins, seals, sea otters and the like. Wonderful excursions and worth the money. Did some shopping in Ketchikan, the last port in Alaska, and glad we waited. Got all of our souvenirs there and they had a lot of choices. I stayed an extra day in Seattle to explore when we returned while my daughter flew back to her home. I really enjoyed Pike Place Market and the Dale Chiluhly exhibit at the museum in Seattle. Glad I had that extra day. All in all, it was a wonderful 55th birthday celebration, and I am already thinking of booking a fall cruise on the Westerdam!   Read Less
Sail Date May 2014
If you haven’t sailed HAL before, the Westerdam, like most other HAL ships, is smaller and more Mariner traditional than other cruise lines mainly focused on the Caribbean style cruising. The ship passenger capacity is roughly 1900 ... Read More
If you haven’t sailed HAL before, the Westerdam, like most other HAL ships, is smaller and more Mariner traditional than other cruise lines mainly focused on the Caribbean style cruising. The ship passenger capacity is roughly 1900 people and our sailing was near capacity. We never waited in line for open seating style dinners. There were some lines during the first two days at the buffets due to a policy where only the HAL staff can serve the food. A great idea in order to minimize the passenger sanitary and Norovirus risk. There were two main restaurants, two specialty restaurants and one large buffet. The bars never seemed crowded, so finding a seat was not an issue. The pool deck had a retractable roof, which is perfect for the Alaskan cruises. Never an issue finding a lounge chair around the pool. We had a balcony cabin at the rear of the ship. It was really nice and perfect for an Alaskan cruise. If you are going to splurge for a balcony cabin, an Alaskan cruise is the perfect time to do so. The scenery and wildlife is constant during the whole cruise. We saw whales, sea otters, eagles, mountain goats, lot of different birds including puffins and Stellar sea lions from our balcony. I mean like 50 whales! The cabin and bedding were nice and our cabin had a tub in the bathroom. The rear cabin allows you to see scenery on both sides of the ship, which is great for viewing wildlife. It also has the smoothest ride. One negative, we noticed some black particulates on the balcony. I think it comes from the ships exhaust stack. We didn’t smell the exhaust but noticed the black dust. The food was cruise ship OK. The dining room food was better than the buffet. Some of the highlights were King crab legs, lobster, Filets, duck, Halibut and lots of wild salmon. There was an Italian and a Grilled specialty restaurant. One night HAL did a special “Le Cirque” dinner based on the fancy New York restaurant. Although I enjoyed the meal, I’m not sure it was worth the extra fee of $49. The entertainment was good, especially a Vegas music act show. HAL also had wine, beer, whisky, martini tasting along with the standard game shows. No theme parties or deck blow-out parties. The passengers were mainly older than 60, but there were families and younger couples. Shore excursion recommendations. You will have limited time in most ports, except Juneau. So, a shore excursion will optimize your time, especially if you want to do something specific. All the port towns are small and there is not much to do except shop, eat and drink. The most interesting things to see and do are around the port towns. Unfortunately most excursions are pricy as compared to the Caribbean. If on a budget, there are tour operates waiting in all ports when you get off the ship. Keep in mind, they aren’t always cheaper. If scenery and wildlife are your primary objective like mine is, I have the following recommendations. Juneau: My three favorites, whale watching, flightseeing or Tracy Arm Fjord boat tour. If on a budget, take the shuttle ($20 RT) to Mendenhall glacier or a ride up the tram for nice views. An area near Juneau has great whale and Orca viewing opportunities, but you need to take a boat there. Flightseeing over the glaciers around Juneau is amazing. Tracy Arm may be the most beautiful fjord in all of Alaska with hundreds of waterfalls, two huge glaciers and 3000 foot cliffs rising straight out of the water. We saw Harbor seals on icebergs, lots of eagles, whales and thousands of icebergs. The glacier calving seemed to be more active here than in Glacier Bay. Sitka: It may be the most scenic town along the inner passage. No cruise ship dock, so we tendered. All the town attractions are within walking distance. There is a free shuttle bus. The totem pole museum and trail National Park is a must. There is also a small aquarium that is worth a visit. Sitka is also great for wildlife. Several Bald eagles were hanging out right at the tender dock. At low tide you can also see starfish along the dock and shallow water area. There is a Raptor recovery center close by and several historic buildings in town. What made Sitka popular are sea otter furs. The Russians nearly killed all of them, but the otter population has recovered. You can take a boat trip and see dozens floating along the islets near Sitka. They are called otter rafts, were a dozen or so float together. I saw a Mommy otter with two pups on her belly. Score! We also had three 60 foot Humpback whales circling our boat (only 4 of us and the Capitan aboard). One surfaced within 20 feet of our boat. Another did a full out of the water breach. Ketchikan: A popular option is the Lumberjack show, a short walk from the cruise dock. No need to book this excursion with the cruise line. Book on you own via their website. Ketchikan is a fun shopping town, but is starting to look more like a Caribbean cruise port. Jewelry shops now line the store fronts along Main Street. The most scenic area is along Creek Street, literally. The street is a creek with boardwalks on each side with historic buildings lining the creek. They are now occupied by shops and cafes. There are also a few small museums. We took a Misty Fjord Flightseeing tour on a floatplane. Misty Fjord scenery is amazing. Unlike most of the glacier lined Fjords in Alaska, the mountains and valleys are covered with trees, lakes and rivers. And, like Tracy Fjord, the 3000 foot sheer cliff mountain walls plunge into the water. We actually landed on a remote lake surrounded by mountains. There is also a boat cruise excursion to Misty Fjord. There are Native American village and wildlife excursions I would also recommend. Glacier Bay: No shore excursions here and possibly the highlight of the cruise. The most scenic part is about half way up the bay where the glaciers come into view. But, some of the best wildlife viewing is in the lower half of the bay. A National Park ranger boards the ship and gives a narrative of the bay and helps spot wildlife. Most people come to see the tide water glaciers, but the wildlife is amazing and can be viewed from the comfort of your cruise ship. We saw whales, sea otters, Stellar sea lions, bald eagles, a Grizzly bear, mountain goats and lots of other birds. There are over 250 bird species in Glacier Bay National Park or 25% of all the species in North America. It also has a large Stellar sea lion population, which also attacks Orcas (we didn’t see any). It also has all five Northwest Salmon species, which attracts Humpback whales and Bald Eagles. Don’t get concerned about rain or clouds when visiting. This is the normal and actually enhances the blue color of the glaciers.   Read Less
Sail Date May 2014
I've been to Alaska twice; first time was on a Princess ship which was very nice. This time I chose Holland America and am highly impressed with most aspects of the ship and the cruise line. My daughter and I paid a small amount for ... Read More
I've been to Alaska twice; first time was on a Princess ship which was very nice. This time I chose Holland America and am highly impressed with most aspects of the ship and the cruise line. My daughter and I paid a small amount for an upgrade to the Rotterdam Deck/Neptune Concierge level. We were assigned Suite 7081. The upgrade was worth every dollar. After being quickly checked in at the terminal, we were in our suite by 11:30 a.m. (boarding was scheduled for 1 p.m.) and our luggage came within 45 minutes! Suite 7081 is a huge accommodation, mid-ship and close to the elevators and the Neptune Lounge which is beautifully appointed and which provides light appetizers throughout the day along with a coffee machine and a variety of fruit juices, fruit, vegetables and parfaits till 10 p.m.. So more about the suite: our beds were already arranged as two singles. A complimentary bottle of sparkling wine and another bottle of water were placed on a sideboard bar area. The desk area had personalized stationery, an umbrella to use ashore, binoculars and the mini bar was well stocked. We each were gifted a pair of terry cloth slippers and a tote bag. There is a seating area with a sofa bed, two club chairs and a coffee table. There are floor-to-ceiling windows providing lots of natural light. The veranda had two lounge chairs plus a table and four chairs for outdoor dining or just enjoying the beautiful views as you cruise. Inside there is more than enough storage space; two huge closets with plenty of hangers, a safe and then a small dressing room with drawers, makeup lighting, hair dryer and drawers. From there you enter the bathroom nicely appointed with two sinks, a jetted tub and an separate shower. Thick, absorbent bathrobes were provided as well. On the first formal night, imagine our surprise to find a corsage for each of us! Room service is available 24 hours a day which came in handy after a late return to the ship! Our cabin stewards were very attentive, every need met and fresh ice and a bowl of fruit awaited our return every afternoon! The young women in the Neptune Lounge provided every help as we needed, especially with booking shore excursions. They were cordial, professional yet very welcoming and helpful. I would highly recommend Holland America! Read Less
Sail Date May 2014
Oosterdam is a lovely ship. She is not one of those that caters to the thousands but has enough people so you can meet like minded folk and enough people so you can avoid those with whom you share little interest ( a polite way of ... Read More
Oosterdam is a lovely ship. She is not one of those that caters to the thousands but has enough people so you can meet like minded folk and enough people so you can avoid those with whom you share little interest ( a polite way of saying.....). For a long voyage she is excellent - you get to know the staff and your way around the ship so she really feels like home. I like Holland America as they take hygiene very seriously. We were very lucky too. We had first sitting for dinner (our preferred choice) and had wonderful table mates (thanks Cindy and Gary and Karen and David) and probably the best wait staff on the ship - Marihot, Rein and Anna. One down point was that the activities we enjoyed were all at the same time making choices difficult - we especially like our trivia - and that was on odd hours (one session during dinner times). Having said that the trivia was the best and fairest I have ever come across and the other teams were fabulous with a really fun spirit which was exceptional. Miss you " If We Only Had a Brain'' and "Better Than 12". For those who do not like sea days this trip may not be for you - you can always fly to Oz - if you like extended flight times. Read Less
Sail Date October 2013
Summary: Last Alaska cruise of the season out of Seattle dodged Pacific storms with great success, altered an itinerary and still packed a great experience into the mix. Embarkation/Disembarkation a breeze. Ship was in good repair. Cabin ... Read More
Summary: Last Alaska cruise of the season out of Seattle dodged Pacific storms with great success, altered an itinerary and still packed a great experience into the mix. Embarkation/Disembarkation a breeze. Ship was in good repair. Cabin was well maintained and serviced. MDR dinners were excellent (and came hot every time). Entertainment ranged from outstanding to dreadful. Ships crew were, in general, there to please. Overall rating 4.75 out of 5 stars for this trip. End Summary We consider ourselves experienced cruisers, know what we like and what we don't. We don't expect 100% success, as we realize that Murphy's Laws have never been repealed and things just go wrong on occasion. We have a few nits and picks. We are resident in Woodinville WA - about 30 miles from the Seattle Pier 91. We were dropped off at the Holland American pier which was being shared by the Golden Princess. We arrived at approximately 1130 and were through security, check-in, boarding photos and in our stateroom by 1215. We attended the Mariner Lunch in the MDR and walked the ship to see what was open, closed or under repair prior to the muster drill. Muster drill was painless, though we all waited a good bit in the chilled air for those few passengers who couldn't manage to make it to the drill). We learned our itinerary was being turned upside down and sideways due to a number of severe weather systems in the North East Pacific - the port of Sitka was dropped, Ketchikan moved to the forefront, Juneau to follow, with Tracy Arm after Juneau followed by a full day vice evening in Victoria. The route to Alaska took the Canadian and American inside passages, which offered up smooth sailing the entire way to Alaska. (Note: Those who cruise out of Vancouver see the Canadian inside passage each trip, Seattle heads out to the Pacific and on the other side of Vancouver Island). The scenery spectacular - whales, dolphins, seals, sea lions abound - it was truly like being in the midst of a National Geographic photo shoot. On board entertainment: The ship had two groups of Hal Cats and a couple of singers - they were good, enjoyable and played a variety of music. The hidden gem was the guitar soloist in the Crows Nest - Matt Bauer - he had a wide repertoire and was most engaging. He teamed up and did a "crooner" show with the Hal Cat's in the Queens Lounge and was great - imo - he belonged in the Ocean Bar each night vice hidden away in the Crows Nest. The piano bar had a gent who relied on his computer synthesizer to make the music and then he would riff and sing along - not to our liking, but perhaps others enjoyed synthesized music more than we did. The night club/disco music was very contemporary and targeting the under 30 patrons - after the shows were concluded the entertainers would congregate and that was the passenger's que to depart. Shows - we attended one, and enjoyed all aspects. It was well put together. The Juneau sail-away party advertised never materialized - we laughed at being the only attendees with the bar crew - no entertainment staff showed up - at 48F it was a bit chilly ;-) Dining: We took all our dinners in the Main Dining room - Sentana/Putu took care of us each night. We made a point the first night - we like our hot dishes hot (not warm) - we expressed our willingness to be served last to have the meal hot. We had every dish served at the appropriate temperature the remainder of the week. We expressed our appreciation to the staff and to Sentana/Putu who took such great care of us. Wine Steward - Jerry - unpretentious and knowledgeable - we look forward to engaging him again on future cruises. Room Service: Too slow to take orders and too slow to deliver - 20-30 min holds for the order and 30-45 min waits for the food. See below for recommendations to Holland America. Room; As advertised - bed was firm (which is to our liking) adequate storage, great room service from Bidu/Agi who took care of our every need, much in an anticipatory manner. With four days at sea, the room was used more than most cruises and we spent a good deal of time on the balcony enjoying the views. Neptune Lounge: The concierge duo was excellent, the engagement as expected. Special callout to Hoda, who noted we infrequently used the lounge, but went out of her way to ensure our needs (if any) were met. We saw others using the lounge as a gathering place, and quiet place to sit and read. The ports of call and highlights: Ketchikan: Small town of 8,000 - we walked to the Totem Pole museum and enjoyed the history within. We walked back and at the Creek Street bridge noticed the salmon running so thick you could walk across the creek on them. We walked the obligatory Creek Street, and then along the waterfront. Juneau: Bigger town of 33,000 - we took the Roberts Tram and enjoyed both the ride and the information at the various centers at the top. Following the Tram, we walked Juneau, and enjoyed it. All tourist stores were liquidating product and we learned, for many, that day was their last day of work as the Oosterdam was the last ship of the 2013 Season. We did not take a float-plane tour, those with whom we spoke and who did take the tour loved it. We observed that walking down to the Seaplane area was a breeze and one could make their own arrangements Tracey Arm - we got pretty darn close and heard and saw the calving of the glacier. We now understood where the term "ice blue" originated. This was the highlight of the trip. Victoria - very nice quaint town, with a lot of history. We had intended to go to the gardens, but the torrential rain dissuaded us, instead we walked about the downtown until we tired of the downpour. RECOMMENDATIONS for HAL - all of which are nits and picks: Increase your print size: The demographic is 50+ for HAL - most of us after about age 45 are carrying readers - when the print is so small on the TV or print material (read menus) - it makes it difficult for us. Literally missing the boat re interactive technology: The TV could and should be used to interact with your guests. A - Room Service - obviate the 20-30 min wait to get an order taker - by allowing the guest to order from the interactive TV - order accuracy improves and the line gets the order efficiently. B - Monitor spending - ability to view the expenses on a continuous basis C - Shore Excursions - show your guest a preview of the excursion and then allow them to order it right then and there. D - Personalized schedule - sign up for events on board and have it show on the screen E - TV Guide - have it default to current time and then allow the guest to step forward. Ability to hit an info button to know what is being broadcasted would be basic. F - Cell at sea and Internet at sea - time to review who your service provider is - it was down more than up and when the Captain has to come on to make an announcement - it clearly is service provider and not shipboard error. Northern Lights Disco - perhaps cater to the passengers vice crew with music selection (at least before midnight when most of us over 50 are looking for pumpkins)   Read Less
Sail Date September 2013
We(my mom and I) took my father on an Alaskan cruise for his 70th Birthday! We have had no previous sailing experience on a cruise ship so we decided to take it as it comes. We were helped at the airport by a friendly lady from HAL and ... Read More
We(my mom and I) took my father on an Alaskan cruise for his 70th Birthday! We have had no previous sailing experience on a cruise ship so we decided to take it as it comes. We were helped at the airport by a friendly lady from HAL and soon we were on our way via a bus to the port. Once there it was easy to get "registered" and then onto the ship....As per the reviews I was a bit apprehensive but I think within a half hour we were on board!. Went to a buffet restaurant as we were starved and had a great lunch! Onto our cabin and what ever we expected...it was better....us 3 were sharing a cabin and as we are tall and biggish people, I was afraid that we were not going to have enough space to pack(as we each had 2 suitcases) bit there was ample space to store our luggage and to move around and to be on the balcony. Night time dinner was amazing! We had a set dinner time as well as the same table every night but we still enjoyed it. Whenever we returned to our cabin after dinner our beds were turned down....nice. A person has this idea of the food when you see the plates of food with so little on it( that it would be "a taste of paper and wind) oh but it was delightful and tasted very good!!! We could choose whatever we wanted and as many times as we wanted and this was amazing! Coffee and water was free with every meal. We had to cut Sitka out of our trip due to bad seas, but it did not matter to us. Seeing the beauty of the earth was compensation enough....we were also the last cruise for the season to Alaska so we picked up MANY Bargains and we came back with suitcases bulging! We only had the one night of bad weather that shook the ship a bit but not enough to wake us up. We rented a tux for my father for the Captian's dinner, but very many people dressed casually that night so I would not recommend this to anyone unless you want to spent those dollars for looking good....I would rather buy a bottle of wine for dinner and have a glass full every night ( the staff cork the wine for you and bring it to your table every night if you want a glass). We did not get too involved with the things onboard as we just wanted to enjoy the sights and the cruise, but there was a lot going on! Apparently there was 60+ kids onboard but we only saw a few during dinner every night so the must have had a kids section where they entertained them during the day. We did not book any excursions but rather just looked at what was to do in Juneau and Ketchikan and did our own thing. Breakfast every morning was aft and at a different table with different people so this was nice to meet new people. Back in the cabin the beds were made so this was super nice that we did not have to do this... Victoria(Canada) was a beautiful sight and we had an awesome day there.... Overall We had an amazing time on board and the only thing that was VERY Expensive for us was the photos that their photographers took, but we still bought them as they were special in another way...   Read Less
Sail Date September 2013
Ingrid and I decided that we wanted to celebrate our retirement by taking a trip to Australia. And instead of flying the 25 plus hours one way we decided to take a slow boat down. We also decided that we would like to take one of the ... Read More
Ingrid and I decided that we wanted to celebrate our retirement by taking a trip to Australia. And instead of flying the 25 plus hours one way we decided to take a slow boat down. We also decided that we would like to take one of the re-positioning ships from the Alaska cruises. This meant a late September departure. We really only had 2 ships to choose from and both were from the Holland America Line. We were happy with that because we thoroughly enjoyed our previous Holland America trip. The decision now was which ship. We decided on the Oosterdam over the Veendam because it was going to more exotic islands and because their balconies offered us plexiglass instead of a solid wall...this might have changed but I couldn't find out that it had. Our trip started a little rough as we had to spend an extra night in Seattle to wait out the remnants of a Pacific storm. Fortunately we did because once we entered into the Pacific Ocean the next night we got into some rough seas. We then head down the coast to Los Angeles. This port was a necessary evil because we had to pick up roughly 700 additional passengers there who now have been waiting for an additional day. We ended up hiking around the port (San Pedro) on a beautiful sunny day. It was alright but the initial port was suppose to be Long Beach and we had arranged to do some biking there. Not sure why the location was changed but it happened several months prior so it wasn't as if we didn't get lots of notification. After LA we spent 5 days sailing to Hawaii...Pacific Ocean is a deep (5000 + metres average) and a very lonely place (not a ship or a whale or a dolphin to see just some flying fish). We arrived in Hawaii to a new port of call Lahaina, Maui. The other port (Hilo) had to be cancelled because we were running a day late. We ended up tendering into Lahaina. This was a very pretty port. The only complaint we had here was that a group that was with a private tour company got to tender in before the rest of us. This made for a long wait until we got into port. We spent the balance of morning walking around until our tour (through Holland America) was ready to go. This was a wonderful tour across the island to a walk in the rain forest and up to a couple of small waterfalls. We got to go for a couple of refreshing swims. Definitely high on my approval list. The next day we arrived in Honolulu. Our visit there was cut in half (down from 2 days originally) because of the late start. Honolulu is a pretty city if you like big cities. We don't but because of the missed day we missed our private tour into the countryside. (still trying to get my money back) Ingrid and I hiked to Waikiki Beach and the to Diamond Head. Both were very pretty and must see but both were extremely busy. The swim at Waikiki was refreshing but it took us forever to find a spot for our towels. Also, too many homeless people in Honolulu which made us extra cautious when we walked. They didn't bother us but just made us very aware of our surroundings. We then sailed for Samoa. This took us 5 days including crossing the equator and the international dateline. Pacific Ocean is a deep (5000 + metres average) and a very lonely place (not a ship or a whale or a dolphin to see just some flying fish). Samoa was a wonderful country. We set up our own private tour only to be forgotten about and left on the pier by our tour operator (lesson learned here is to contact them a couple of days before to ensure your not forgotten). Fortunately there were lots of operators to choose from. We managed to get one to do the exact same route around the island as I had initially planned. We circled the island and saw several beautiful waterfalls, lovely villages and friendly people. We snorkeled on the south side of the island. The snorkeling was okay but you could see that it suffered from a storm that hit the area in 2010. After Samoa we sailed for the Fijian Island of Dravuni. When we arrived the winds were high and I give kudos to the ships crew for still tendering us in. This was a small island beautiful island. Once we found the spot the snorkeling was fantastic. (if you are facing shore from the tender dock go right as far as you can - till the end of the beach). The hike up the hill is worth the view as well and is an easy hike. Next up was Suva, Fiji. This was an okay stop. Suva is a very busy city. We went on a Holland America organized hike into a nearby national park. Very much worth it. Saw a number of waterfalls and interesting vegetation. Fijians are very friendly. Watch out for some of the aggressive vendors near the port. Next up was Vanuatu. Beautiful island, wonderful people. We organized a private tour with Evergreen Tours to take us on an Around the Island tour. What a wonderful tour company and a wonderful trip. Ingrid suggested to them that we do the trip backwards. This was because the 1st stop was going to be at a beach for snorkeling. They agreed and thought it was a great idea because the rest of the organized tours were going that way. Off we went. We visited Melee Falls, a neat little World War 2 museum, had a great lunch, did some wonderful snorkeling and saw a it of the city. We even got back in time to shop at the market set up at the port. Just one word of caution. When landing be prepared to walk through a gallant of taxi drivers willing to take you anywhere. We then went to New Caledonia where we visited 3 islands. The 1st up was Lifou. This island had the best snorkeling of all. You go for a short walk across a little peninsula to the snorkeling location. There is no beach only a staircase to go down to the water. The locals recently fixed up the staircase and charge $10.00 American per person for the day to snorkel. This was very recent and caught us by surprise. Having said this the location was excellent, the money worth it and everything about it was well organized. To my disappointment there was a passenger that refused to pay and just walked past the locals and went down the staircase and went snorkeling. After snorkeling we hiked up to a pretty little church (must see) over looking the bay. The locals had a market set up at the tender port with food and lots of items for sail. Onto Noumea, New Caledonia. Here I arranged another private tour with Gateaway Tours to take us to the Blue River National Park. Again, what a wonderful tour. Alfred, the tour guide and owner did an excellent job. Blue River Park is a must see. It is as modern as any of our national parks. Alfred also put on an excellent spread for lunch including a couple of bottles of red and white wine. New Caledonia is as modern as you can get. France has spent a lot of money on this territory. Our last stop was Isle des Pins. Great snorkeling, great hiking (go for the hill just a couple of kilometres from the tender port. The climb is worth the view. This climb is not for everyone. You need relatively good shoes and a strong heart. The couple of Holland America tours offered was worth the money. One toured the island and another went to a small lagoon to snorkel. 27 days in these few words does not do the trip justice. Great trip, great ship, great crew, and met many wonderful people Read Less
Sail Date September 2013
We travelled from the UK to go on this cruise and were not disappointed. The Westerdam is beautiful. I'm a bit funny about cheese-tastic decor but this was totally fine, touches of modern, touches of old-cruise-glamour. Maybe one or ... Read More
We travelled from the UK to go on this cruise and were not disappointed. The Westerdam is beautiful. I'm a bit funny about cheese-tastic decor but this was totally fine, touches of modern, touches of old-cruise-glamour. Maybe one or two lurid rooms (Northern Lights disco comes to mind) but I wanted to feel like I was on a ship, not in a sterile hotel, if people want that look then they should go and stay in a chain hotel, in my opinion! The Alaska route was just great. Unfortunately there was a big storm and we had to miss Sitka but that meant we had longer in Ketchikan and Victoria. The night we escaped the storm was seriously rough seas but other than that it was plain sailing. And the rough bits were exciting anyway, we're lucky not to suffer from travel sickness so it all added to the experience and gave all the passengers something to talk about in the lift! We only actually ate in the restaraunt once, opting for the convenience and speed of the Lido most of the time. It was such good quality we didn't eat anywhere off-shore except for in Juneau I got some crab from Tracey's. I did not expect that to be the case. Well done HAL. The staff on board are just amazing. They are so much fun and service is second to none. We had a Verandah room 4021 and it was great - plenty space, good shower, massive bed, was like sleeping on a big pillow. And Abdul and Tri kept us in luxury, always managing to notice the times we had popped out to go in and service the room and leave nice touches like chocolates and towel animals. Sounds a bit twee but it's nice to think they make so much effort. We're first-timers but found everything much more reasonably priced than we expected - the only thing I was a bit annoyed at was, having looked hard and failed to find a discounted/unlimited beverage package before we left, we bought a pre-paid beverage card only to be offered unlimited drinks for a set fee per day once we boarded. Nothing major, just if you are likely to drink 8 or more specialty coffees/beers/cocktails per day this would be well worth your while. It sounds a lot but we had 3 sea days and I easily got through an average of 2 coffees, 3 cocktails and probably about 5 bottles of beer throughout the day. You might think you wouldn't but between the bars, meals, casino and restaraunt - it doesn't take much. But that's picking, it didn't bear negatively and as I said we were surprised the drinks weren't more expensive. On HAL the cocktails are mainly $6.50 and we usually bought our beers in an ice bucket of 5 for $25 (or 10 for $30 in happy hour - they only open them as you go so you can take them to the room for other days). We weren't sure if we would like cruising, but we weren't even home before we were speculatively checking out some other routes... now just to recover the bank balance and decide where to! Read Less
Sail Date September 2013
HAL is tops for Alaska in many ways. I had not cruised HAL in awhile and was a little concerned that I would be disappointed, having seen some negative reviews lately. HAL remains number one for "quiet, unobtrusive" service. My ... Read More
HAL is tops for Alaska in many ways. I had not cruised HAL in awhile and was a little concerned that I would be disappointed, having seen some negative reviews lately. HAL remains number one for "quiet, unobtrusive" service. My cabin steward was superior. As a widow, I end up with a variety of seating arrangements. One night, I had a sweetheart of a dining steward with an unpronounceable name (I think it was Wodolowloo?) He made and brought me a little origami bird to be my tablemate. I love that HAL service is not fawning and predictably gracious. I had been on the Westerdam before, so took this cruise for the itinerary. Really wanted to see Sitka and Glacier Bay. Rough seas put a stop to Sitka. The captain announced it ASAP and all the changes that followed were handled efficiently. Immediate refund of shore excursion, super-quick booking of revised excursions, etc. Despite rough seas and some changes, this cruise is ranked as a favorite. And God gave us a beyond-spectacular day in Glacier Bay! I have cruised more than a dozen times on more than half a dozen cruise lines. Reviews always reflect unmet expectations. And sometimes that is what the negative is all about. Every time I have cruised HAL these expectations have been met and/or exceeded: Efficient embarkation and debarkation; "quiet, unobtrusive service"; sedate atmosphere, educational ethos. I also truly appreciated the fact that I could bring on fine wines from Seattle on embarkation, and on disembarkation could order room service breakfast to stay out of the crowds. Read Less
Sail Date September 2013
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